Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA/Germany, 2000. Haft Entertainment, New Regency Pictures, KirchMedia, Regency Enterprises. Screenplay by Ross Klavan, Michael McGruther. Cinematography by Matthew Libatique. Produced by Beau Flynn, Steven Haft, Arnon Milchan. Music by Nathan Larson. Production Design by Andrew Laws. Costume Design by Thomas Stokes. Film Editing by Mark Stevens. Independent Spirit Awards 2000. Toronto International Film Festival 2000.
A group of young American soldiers are trained in a hellish boot camp in Louisiana before being sent off to Vietnam. Unlike the men who have come before them, however, these guys are being trained well past the point when news reports coming back from the battlefield are reporting heavy losses. One soldier in particular (Colin Farrell), is so affected by his absolute certainty of death that he gives no small amount of insubordination to his superiors, who are all so exasperated with him that they just don’t know what to do about it. When his skills as a leader become apparent, however, they find good use for him. This exciting, dramatically engrossing film is highlighted by a mostly unknown but extremely talented cast and naturalistic, Dogma-influenced photography that gives the film a believable, low-key quality. Farrell is brilliant in a star-making role, and Matthew Davis lends excellent support as his best friend. The film, one of the only Vietnam films to never for one moment take place outside of the United States, is the first great work by Joel Schumacher in years (if not ever).